Medicare Annual Enrollment Period Explained

Medicare Annual Enrollment

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period – AEP for short – is a set time each year for changing your Medicare coverage choices if you choose to. AEP runs from October 15 to December 7. New coverage choices go into effect on January 1.

What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?

The specific actions you can take during AEP depend on your current coverage. Check your situation below for a run-down on what you can do.

☐ I currently have just Original Medicare (Parts A & B).

  • Join a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) with or without built-in drug coverage. Note that you may be charged a penalty if you do not currently have other creditable drug coverage.
  • Join a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D). A penalty may apply here as well if you do not currently have other creditable drug coverage.
  • Make no changes and your current coverage will renew as is.

☐ I currently have Original Medicare (Part A and/or Part B) and a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D).

  • Join a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) with or without built-in drug coverage.
  • Switch from your current Medicare prescription drug plan to another Medicare prescription drug plan.
  • Drop Medicare prescription drug coverage completely. Note that you may be charged a penalty if you decide you want drug coverage again later.
  • Make no changes and your current coverage will renew as is.

☐ I currently have a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) with built-in drug coverage.

  • Switch from your current Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan with or without built-in drug coverage.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare.
  • Join a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan if you go back to Original Medicare or if you switch to a Medicare Advantage plan that does not include drug coverage.
  • Drop Medicare prescription drug coverage completely. Note that you may be charged a penalty if you decide you want drug coverage again later.
  • Make no changes and your current coverage will renew as is.

☐ I currently have a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) and a stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plan (Part D).

  • Switch from your current Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan with or without built-in drug coverage.
  • Switch from your current Medicare prescription drug plan to another Medicare prescription drug plan.
  • Drop your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare.
  •  Drop Medicare prescription drug coverage completely. Note that you may be charged a penalty if you decide you want drug coverage again later.
  • Make no changes and your current coverage will renew as is.

AEP is also a great reminder to review your Medicare plan each year so you can make sure you have the coverage you need going forward.